CITY-WIDE SECONDARY SUITES REFORM PASSES!!!
Thank you to all the Calgarians who voiced their support over the years and to the leaders on City Council today: Cllr. Carra, Cllr. Chahal, Cllr. Colley-Urquhart, Cllr. Davison, Cllr. Farrell, Cllr. Gondek, Cllr. Keating, Cllr. Woolley, and Mayor Nenshi!
HELP NEEDED: Attend the public hearing on Monday March 12, 2018 and voice your support for secondary suite reform!
It's as important as ever for Calgarians to let City Council know that they support reform of the secondary suites process.
Great comments on why secondary suites are good for R1 communities, from Emma Grace May!
Don’t panic about secondary suite rules if you’re a homeowner in an R1 neighbourhood – it may just save your property value.
I live in an R1 neighbourhood that ...clings tightly to the tradition of a single family detached home on one lot. It is a phenomenal neighbourhood, a place that holds annual block parties, watches out for each other’s kids and where neighbours meet to play shinny in the park. I love it here.
I know that a number of my neighbours are stressed about the proposed changes to the Land Use Bylaw scheduled to be moved before City Council on March 12th. The changes will allow for the creation of secondary suites in any R1 (and other) communities – subject to administrative approval. Many fear this proposed change will affect the character of our community and negatively impact our property values.
My experience working in real estate and watching other cities manage the approval of secondary suites leads me to believe that this change will not lead to reduced property values. In fact, it may increase them. Here are some of my thoughts as to why:
Community integrity is about people. Great people who are connected to and support each other through the shared experience of living in close proximity. Many neighbourhoods in Vancouver face the problem of diminishing community integrity not because of full homes or immigration, but because so many homes are being left empty. Because there are not enough people on the streets, in the parks and watching out over each other.
The move towards allowing secondary suites is happening in urban centres across western Canada, including Edmonton. This isn’t because it’s a policy fad. It is what consumers want. Homebuyers are looking for more flexibility in terms of how they live. People want secondary suites for these primary reasons:
-How we work is rapidly changing – people want to be able to add a home office over the garage, so they don’t have to drive to the office every day. For many there is no longer the necessity to show up at an office in person.
-They want to be able to afford to stay in their homes once they are living on a fixed income. Having a rental suite can help pay increasing tax burdens AND alleviate the fear of being alone as people age in place. I have seen this work very well for my mother-in-law. She built a very nice 2 bedroom suite in her walkout basement and she has rented it to couples with young children, a nurse and some students over the years. She receives some supplemental income and she feels secure knowing there are people around who she can call on for help, or even just casual conversation. This allows her to remain in the family home and her beloved community for years to come.
-Some people want to be able to house multiple generations in the same place – with a modicum of privacy. Many cultures favour housing multiple generations together – adhering to the more traditional philosophy of taking care of each other together through each stage of the life cycle rather than the normalized western idea of the separated nuclear family structure. Baby boomers are not in a rush to leave their homes for the confines of senior communities and the high cost of living in some areas it makes a good financial case for keeping their young adults close – with some allowance for separation and privacy.
Buying a home is a lot harder for young people that it used to be -- significantly harder. This isn’t just caused by pricing – even though homes are infinitely more expensive than they used to be. Lending practices are much tighter now than they were even five years ago. Getting a mortgage for your primary home often requires young buyers to save for decades, have a co-signer and/or borrow from the bank of ‘mom and dad’. This typically means that many don’t buy – they rent for years and those that do buy are often looking for flexibility with mortgage helpers.
We need to understand there is a cultural shift happening with regards to renting. In the past buying a home was a true rite of passage, but more and more people are turning away from home ownership and toward long-term renting. There are a number of factors contributing to this trend; cost, borrowing difficulty, ease of lifestyle, different approaches to work and a desire for experiences rather things, are some of the top ones. Future generations view owning a lot of stuff and filling big homes and big garage with this stuff is onerous and passé. In the era of AIRBNB, UBER, LYFT, car sharing, bike sharing, music and movies in the cloud, people no longer feel the need to own. Don’t feel the need to conform and hold a large mortgage on home with a 3 car garage.
With this shift is coming a new perspective on renters. In the past they were often categorized as lesser citizens. People feared “renters” in their communities because there was a sense that they were people who were living on the margins and were not connected to their community. Now, more than ever, this no longer true. Long term rental is very common in Europe and parts of Asia. And as parents now see their accomplished children choosing to rent and not buy, cultural perspectives on renting are starting to shift. Renters are our neighbours, friends, parents, grandparents and kids – not the homeless, indigent and poor.
I really believe that a move toward secondary suites in R1 neighbourhoods is a good thing for the City of Calgary and its citizens. It’s also a good thing for homeowners because it will allow them to offer others what many are looking for – flexibility. And, when done universally, will not negatively impact our property values or our communities. It will allow us to invite new and increasingly diverse people to our block parties, bbq’s, and games of shinny. I love that and I think you will too.
YOUR VOICE IS NEEDED: On Monday, March 12 2018, Calgary City Council will be holding a public hearing on proposed amendments the secondary suites process.
It's as important as ever for Calgarians to let City Council know that they support effective reform of the secondary suites process.
March 12 is the big day at Council for secondary suite reform! Submission details are here: http://www.calgary.ca/…/Home-building-and-renovations/Secon…
FINALLY! After years of dithering, City Council finally took a first step towards regulating secondary suites like every other major Canadian city.
THANK YOU to the City Councillors who supported this step and thank you to everyone who worked with us to champion reform for the last 5+ years!!
BREAKING: City council has just approved secondary suite reform in a 10-5 vote, giving the green light for suites to become a 'discretionary use' citywide. It's... not final, however, until (if!) council passes the revised land-use bylaw in early 2018. Nenshi called tonight an "extraordinarily important step."
Here's how everyone voted:
YES: Carra, Chahal, Colley-Urquhart, Davison, Farkas, Farrell, Gondek, Keating, Woolley, Nenshi
NO: Chu, Demong, Jones, Magliocca, Sutherland
WILL CITY COUNCIL FINALLY BUST OUT SOME SUITE MOVES?
Read out take on the Notice of Motion coming to Council on Monday.
City Council once again has an opportunity to make significant progress on fixing Calgary’s broken secondary suites application process.
Let’s hope they don’t fall back into the trap of trying to penalize homeowners by making legal suite applications so expensive and onerous that they continue to incentivize more illegal suite building.
Self-identified “conservative” councillors that have been dragging their feet on suite reform for years have actually costing taxpayers big money all along.
DO YOU LIVE IN WARD 6? Respond to this survey and let Ward 6 Councillor Davison hear your voice on secondary suite reform!
“Calgary appears to be unique in this ongoing public shame of a political process, where, if enough residents complain on the first Monday of the month, councillors can deny a homeowner’s wishes because that might mean too many parked cars and humans on a cul-de-sac or corner lot.”
Let’s hope our new Council will take action to end this embarrassing, wasteful application process. Calgary should be better than this.
REMINDER TO VOTE: Voting tomorrow for a City Council that supports secondary suites is perhaps the biggest chance to date that we will have to make a difference.
SUITE PICK FOR WARD 13: Adam Boechler supports regulating secondary suites city-wide by replacing the current wasteful, humiliating and arbitrary public approval process before City Council with an fair and efficient approval process that is based on clear rules and run by City Administration.